Lately I have been afraid to read. When I say that fear hasn't kept me from reading, you should not cheer me on: I can read the following with ease:
- facebook status messages
- in particular, food blogs
- self-help books
- magazines (the shorter the article, the better: I've even been avoiding the real articles)
- the Ikea catalog
There are many, many things I honestly want to read. There's that book on Kant's moral philosophy that I started. I enjoyed reading it (the 20 or so pages I accomplished) but have not returned to it. I started War and Peace one night. A bookmark about 15 pages in is all I have to show for it. I have several books on my shelf (free! I have them!) about fiction and literature. These would help me in my dissertation work. I might not even have to take notes on them. And their spines and covers are perfect, without a single crease or bend. I loved The Golden Bowl and I have two copies of The Ambassadors. Haven't started. And then, of course, there is the poetry into which I can't bring myself to journey; I run my mind lightly over their surfaces instead of plunging into their depths.
I just can't bring myself to do it. I am not even entirely sure what it is that I am afraid of. Unless it is that I am afraid to learn and know more than I do. I am at a stage of writing now where I am better able to see the holes in my work. I am also at a stage where I must prepare (much and quickly) to obtain a job, and I see the holes in my professional development. The reading I want to do and must do would certainly help to fill those holes.
And that, I find, makes me very, very nervous. I see that I have used "I don't know that" and "my background is not very good" and "oh, but I'm not very well-informed about that" as excuses. I have used such excuses to keep myself from becoming competent. That way, when I fail, I can say "well, I didn't know X or Y or Z" even though I could have taken it upon myself to learn them.
I am afraid, it seems, of being an academic. Of having any authority. Of pushing myself to work (sometimes) at my own limits. If I did that--if I explored and expanded my limits--I'd have to learn to tell new stories about myself. I'd have to develop stories about growth and accomplishment and achievement. And that is why I just cannot, these days, bring myself to read.